As parents, we look forward to so many milestones once a baby arrives. We wait for these moments with patience, but also little to no control. We don’t know when a baby’s first giggle or first steps will happen, or when they’ll utter their first understandable word. But other milestone moments are curated by us, especially the birthday party.
As an L.A. mom of two children, ages 10 and 3, I have seen the gamut when it comes to birthday parties, from casual backyard and park gatherings to immersive, themed affairs, including farm extravaganzas with goats, chickens and bunnies to pet, plus pony rides and barnyard decor.
Some parents are true DIYers and tackle the workload alone, while others outsource some (or all) party tasks to a party company. L.A. Parent talked to two So Cal party and entertainment businesses – Little Artist Party and Littles Party Co – to find out what they’re seeing in the world of birthday parties today, from one-year-old celebrations to tween and teen parties. May these inspire you to organize (or book) that upcoming birthday party.
For Ages 1 to 4
For the youngest in the crowd, it’s nice to give them space to wiggle and move — and to let them experience the setting through physical and sensory play. Christie Topjian, owner of party rental service Littles Party Co, says that means ball pits, tunnels, soft-play climbing blocks and slides. She regularly sets such items up in a corralled, matted play area so that babies and tots can play safely. Balloon arches are common requests, too, as are bounce houses. You can get smaller versions of these nowadays, appropriate even for crawlers.
Topjian says families with young children are also requesting parties themed to “Bluey,” the hit television show. “Roar I’m four” is another cute theme for dinosaur lovers.
Arsineh Hoonanian, owner of Little Artist Party, offers a “Play-Doh Discovery Experience” for this age group – another safe and sensory way to entertain young children. The company will bring in all necessary supplies and decor. She has also done “Furry Friend Stuffing” parties (guests build their own stuffed animals), canvas and ceramics painting parties, and cupcake decorating parties.
For Ages 5 to 10
In this age group, both Littles Party Co and Little Artist Party get lots of requests for slime-themed parties. Guests make their own slime creations, complete with scents and mix-ins (proving that even older kids love some sensory play time).
“A Spa-Tacular Party,” which includes face masks, mini manicures and more, is another oft-booked theme, as are spray-paint parties, sand-art parties and celebrations that lean into favorite films, from “Toy Story” to “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.”
For Teens and Tweens
Those of us with children in this age range know that tweens and teens don’t want things to feel too “kiddie.” But themed parties and hands-on activities can still work, so long as the decor and activities lean a bit more mature.
Little Artist Party says that means tie-dye, jewelry or bead creations parties, and even a Spray Paint n’ Patching party, when guests personalize their own hat or denim jacket with patches and spray paint. For all of these, party favor bags aren’t even needed, as what the guests create are memento enough.
Littles Party Co is a party rental service that currently specializes in infant and toddler soft-play and entertainment. Later this year, they will expand with offerings for older age groups, including slumber party packages, bumper cars and more.